Saturday, April 18, 2015

JAMES CITY COUNTY VIRGINIA'S PROPOSED TAX INCREASE



As a result of deficit spending of $24 million in recent years for land control, James City County Virginia's Supervisory Board is proposing an unexpected 11% tax increase. This is, in large part, driven by previous boards "marriage" to the philosophies of UN Agenda 21 and ICLEI, of which the county was a member for several years until activists "persuaded" their divorce in 2013. Land development rights, as well as outright purchases were made, even with deficit spending, while critical needs of the county were being ignored. The county is now faced with a tax increase, radical budget cuts or both. This article was published in The Virginia Gazette on April 15, 2015.

Publisher Digby Soloman's April 4 Virginia Gazette editorial “Who's Minding the Store,”addressing the proposed James City County tax increase, was excellent and thought-provoking. However, it was far kinder to the Board of Supervisors, past and present, than it could have or should have been!

The issue of how we got to this state is not being told. Deficit spending and the drawing down of reserve funds is profound mismanagement. The fact that it's now necessary to increase taxes to provide for even a single critical need, storm water mitigation, has a far greater cause than Republican supervisors voting against it. Why did they have to vote it down? Where was the necessary money spent?

The most clarifying presentation of spending over the years, that I've heard, was given by supervisor Kennedy in two venues a year ago. However his recent op-ed on what services would be cut if a tax increase were denied was of a totally different tone – satirical-like. The whole truth is not yet revealed, but it must be. And, those responsible for the dilemma should be held accountable.

Focus is on lost revenue from reduced real estate assessments. To be sure, reduced home assessments produced a revenue shortfall. Such a shortfall could legitimately be thought of as temporary thereby justify use of reserve funds. But, that's not the major part of this story. Money spent for land control is.

I tried to broach the issue of land control and it's costs at the recent Roberts District meeting. Frankly, supervisor McGlennon was not eager to address the the issue and its contribution to budget problems. He stated that citizens approved spending for land purchases. Were they told that tax increases would be necessary? Did they understand the resultant deficit spending and reduction of the reserve fund, hence a lowering of the county's bond rating? Doubtful! Did they anticipate critical needs being set aside to permit spending for land control? Did they expect their supervisors to be driven according to an ideological agenda which they were told nothing about? No! The magnitude of this part of deficit spending is as shocking as the mind-set that drove it is worrisome.

James City County has spent $24+ million for land control since about 2009, $21 million for “greenspace” and $3 million for “purchased development rights.” As late as November 2013, $3.9 million were spent for two “greenspace” properties, $2.6 M for Carleton Farms and $1.3 M for the Gilley farm. Jamestown camp grounds cost the county $12 million in 2009. Whatever one chooses to call this, it's land control, which portends people control, the mind-set of adherents to Agenda 21/ICLEI of which James City County was a member. We were assured that the dues of a few hundred dollars per year were insignificant. True, but the same mind-set that paid these dues also promoted spending millions.

I realize that my analysis and comments will cause mind explosions with some. Sometimes truth, especially with ideological issues, can do that.

Finally, I want to assert that I give way to nobody in love for the land. I grew up in rural West Virginia, where we loved and respected the land and environment. After traveling much of the world, and living in major cites, my heart and soul are still rural. But, I am opposed to control of land and people and the overall agenda of ideologues who have no personal experience and simply promote the agenda of the herd they march with as has happened here. Innocents pay the price of management by ideology rather than by prioritized critical needs of citizens.

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